DENVER — A New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photo was used in a Colorado campaign attack mailer said Wednesday that the image that once represented their commitment now makes them cringe.
The couple filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court against the group that used the photo without their permission and put it on mailers attacking a Colorado Republican state lawmaker who supported a failed civil unions bill.
The photo of Brian Edwards, 32, and Tom Privitere, 37, holding hands and kissing with the New York City skyline as a backdrop was on display in front of the courthouse. Edwards said they are suing to "take back the beautiful image in our lives that was reflected in our engagement photo."
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple Wednesday against Virginia-based Public Advocate of the United States.
Christine P. Sun, the law center's deputy legal director, said they don't know how Public Advocate obtained the photo or why it was picked. It was posted on Edwards' personal blog.
"They were devastated by the idea that a young person in Colorado could receive this mailer and feel ashamed about his or her sexual orientation," Sun said.
Public Advocate has not commented on the lawsuit.
The photo was used in mailers in a June primary election involving Sen. Jean White, one of a handful of Republicans who supported a civil unions bill that was blocked in the state House. The mailer, which replaced the Manhattan skyline with a snowy background, read: "State Senator Jean White's Idea of 'Family Values?' "
White lost the primary to a fellow Republican in a northwestern Colorado district. She said she was disgusted that the couple's personal photo was used in an attack that she thinks ultimately swayed the race.
"And to say, 'my idea of family values?' Well, I tell you, I value all families," said White, who was present with Edwards and Privitere outside court.